09 August 2012

Wilderness Competition

The Geo-Wiki Wilderness Competition: How much wilderness is there left on this planet?

About the Competition

Owing to the importance of global land cover in disciplines such as climate change, food security and land-use modelling, the creation of a global land cover calibration and validation data set is essential. We established a global sample of validation points which were classified in this competition. Validators were ask to identify the degree of human impact (on a scale from 0 to 100) which is visible from Google Earth imagery. Examples illustrating the concept of human impact across the full spectrum (from areas devoid of influence to urbanized areas with large impervious surfaces) were provided to the volunteers as part of online training materials. Through different Geo-Wiki crowdsourcing competitions, more than 100,000 validation samples of human impact were collected globally. 

Top 10 Validators

 RankName Affiliation 
 1 Ujjal Deka Baruah Gauhati University, Guwahati, Assam, India 
 2Anup Saikia Gauhati University, Guwahati, Assam, India 
 3Kuleswar Singh Gauhati University, Guwahati, Assam, India 
 4Sergio de Miguel  University of Eastern Finland, Joensuu, Finland  
 5Rubul Hazarika Gauhati University, Guwahati, Assam, India 
 6Ankita Sarkar Gauhati University, Guwahati, Assam, India 
 7Abel Alan Marcarini AgroParis Tech, Nancy, France 
 8Mrinal Baruah Gauhati University, Guwahati, Assam, India 
 9Dhrubajyoti Sahariah Gauhati University, Guwahati, Assam, India 
10 Trishna Changkakati Gauhati University, Guwahati, Assam, India 


By interpolating the validation samples of human impact points and by using a simplified remoteness concept – which is distance to visible human influence - a map of human impact has been produced (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Human impact interpolated from pixels interpreted by the crowd using Google Earth

Comparing the crowdsourced map of human impact with version 2 of the human footprint by Sanderson et al. (2002), there are large differences primarily in areas of agriculture and some desert regions, where human impact is visible from space but which is not picked up using the methodology of Sanderson et al. (2002). Our analysis will undertake a systematic comparison of the two products, use the crowdsourced data to validate the Sanderson map and consider the advantages and disadvantages of a crowdsourcing approach for creating maps of wilderness. Recommendations for how the method can be improved in the future will also be presented.

An abstract of the study has been submitted to the WILD10 Conference "MAKE THE WORLD A WILDER PLACE" taking part from 4-10 October 2013 in Salamanca, Spain. 

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Last edited: 29 January 2013


Steffen Fritz

EOCS Center Head and Deputy Program Director

Ecosystems Services and Management

T +43(0) 2236 807 353

Linda See

Senior Research Scholar

Ecosystems Services and Management

T +43(0) 2236 807 423

WILD10 Conference

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